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Neighbors share their story of Roxbury shooting that took the life of 14-year-old boy

Bits of police tape were still hanging limply off some fence poles and in the fallen leaves at the corner of Washington and Cobden streets in Roxbury a day after a 14-year-old boy was shot to death and another sent to the hospital with less-serious gunshot injuries.

Neighbors on Cobden pointed out where they saw officers find the teen, who the Boston Police Department has not named, when they responded to numerous 911 calls for gunshots in the area at around 12:18 p.m. Monday. He was in an alley behind a daycare center whose sign listed services for children three months to 6 years old.

“I heard (a bang) and I … was like, ‘That didn’t sound like any fireworks,’” said Eric Washington, 50, who lives within a block of where the shooting happened. “I ran into the house because I didn’t know where it was coming from at first.”

What was particularly “eerie” about this is that Washington was walking right behind the teen before the teen turned off the Washington Street sidewalk up Cobden. And that at least two of his four children had known the child who was shot to death.

“My son stayed home today from school because he saw him get into the ambulance and he was bleeding,” Washington said, adding that this son and a daughter of his knew the child from the Lee School on Talbot Avenue before all three ended up at different high schools. “And he used to play basketball with him.”

The other child who was shot but survived ran to an apartment on Cobden, where he knew the tenant’s grandchild, for help after being shot, according to the husband of that grandmother.

“I was sitting there watching the television and drinking a cup of tea and then after three minutes I heard a loud explosion and thought to myself, ‘Well, this doesn’t sound right,’” said Shervin Henry, 38, who moved to the U.S. four years ago from Jamaica. “So, I heard the doorbell kept banging, banging.”

“When he eventually came in the house he came in, sat down and said ‘I can’t feel any life in my leg,’” he said, and soon the place was surrounded by police and ambulances.

Another former resident of the area said he had moved to another neighborhood years ago “because of stuff like that” and had only last year lost his own son — and a nephew in years past — to gang violence.

The 50-year-old man, who refused to give his name for fear of “getting killed,” sketched out the demarcation lines of the various gang areas in the neighborhood, in which he listed eight gangs from Humboldt to Columbus avenues.

Washington, on the other hand, said that he hadn’t seen what he saw Tuesday for a “very long time” and described the area as generally pleasant when speaking with the Herald.

To all three men, though, the answer to keep the neighborhood safer, they said, is to have things for kids to do.

“Once your kids get bored, there’s going to be trouble out here,” Washington said. “You have to keep them busy.”

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